Conversations 2015: Our best yet?

Axel ZwingenbergerWorld-renowned German pianist and photographer Axel Zwingenberger, one of the five best boogie-woogie piano players in the world, got Conversations 2015 off to a rocking start with his music on Friday night. The “Boogiemeister prophet of steam” also presented his stunning and, at times, death-defying night photography of German steam locomotives. Photograph by Henry A. Koshollek

Conversations 2015 is a wrap, and the foremost question on everyone’s mind at the Center is, simply, “What can we ever do to top this?” German guest Axel Zwingenberger played world-class boogie-woogie piano music and showed world-class night steam photography. Art collector Peter Mosse swept attendees into a whirlwind and globe-trotting tour of the fascinating world of railroad paintings. The curator of Britain’s National Railway Museum, Ed Bartholomew, presented a riveting overview of 175 years of British railway photography in less than forty-five minutes. Renowned photographers from across the country showed stunning images and provided insightful commentary on their methods and intentions, including J. Parker Lamb, one of the deans of American railroad photography. There were few dull moments for the close-to-capacity crowd of 175 attendees, who enjoyed sumptuous meals, lively social hours, and ample opportunities to converse with dozens of leaders in the fields of railroad photography and art. Topping Conversations 2015 is a tall order, but you can trust that the Center is up to the task. In the meantime, enjoy a “Top Ten” list about the conference from Trains editor Jim Wrinn and eighty views through the skillful eye of photographer Henry A. Koshollek.

Conversations 2015: Print Program, Raffles, Docents

J. Parker Lamb Print RaffleIllinois Central steam locomotive no. 2613 at Cairo, Illinois, in 1959, in a photograph by J. Parker Lamb. Lamb will share a retrospective of his work at Conversations about Photography on Sunday, April 12, 2015. He has donated a 16×20 print of this photograph, which will be raffled on Saturday. Tickets are available in the conference page.

Conference presenter and renowned photographer J. Parker Lamb has donated a 16×20 print of the above photograph to be raffled on Saturday at Conversations 2015. Another print from David Plowden will be raffled on Friday, and Plowden plans to attend both the Friday dinner and the Saturday reception with his wife, Sandra. Tickets for both raffles are available on the 2015 conference page and will also be for sale at the door.

Two new prints are available through the Center’s Print Program. The 2015 offerings come from Ted Benson and Jeff Mast. Benson’s “Blossoms come to the Tidewater Southern” is an 11×14 silver gelatin print made by the photographer. Mast’s “Cumbres & Toltec” is a 10×15 archival pigment print made by program coordinator Jeff Brouws. Both are available in limited editions of ten, signed by the photographer. Pre-order for pickup at the conference to save ten percent.

We are excited to welcome five docents to Conversations 2015. They are photographers Brandon Townley, Davidson Ward, and John Sanderson, and archivists Jim Cascino and Andy Meyer. Townley, of Toledo, Ohio, is a talented professional photographer and first-time attendee. Ward comes from Nashville, Tennessee, and is attending his third conference—his first as a docent. He is a photographer, transportation consultant, and steam preservationist. Sanderson is returning for his second tour as a docent and brings a wealth of photography exhibition knowledge from his work in New York City galleries. Cascino and Meyer are both first-time attendees and currently working on the Center’s photography collections at Lake Forest College. We thank the conference patrons, whose generosity makes the docent program possible.

Just a few tickets remain for Conversations 2015. Get them while they last!

Tickets on sale for Conversations 2015

J. Parker LambIn an iconic photograph by J. Parker Lamb, a Gulf, Mobile & Ohio fireman enjoys a cool breeze as his freight train heads north behind Alco FAs at Marion, Mississippi, in July 1958. Lamb will share a retrospective of his work at Conversations about Photography on Sunday, April 12, 2015.

Reserve your spot for the Center’s annual conference, Conversations about Photography, April 10-12 on the campus of Lake Forest College, 30 miles north of Chicago. Headliners include J. Parker Lamb, Ted Benson, Dale Sanders, and Axel Zwingenberger. Peter Mosse will share selections from his extensive art collection, one of the largest private collections of railroad paintings in country. James Swensen, a BYU professor, will look at the railroad photography of Russell Lee. See the full line-up and purchase tickets on the conference page. Last year’s conference sold-out, so make your reservations now.

Scholarships, funded by conference patrons, are available for young and/or emerging photographers and other visual artists. The deadline for applications is February 1; recipients will be announced by February 13.

Eric Williams Wins 2014 Gruber Award

Eric Williams, of Millburn, New Jersey, has won first prize in the Center’s 2014 John E. Gruber Creative Photography Awards Program, for a stunning night view of the Chicago elevated. Matthew Malkiewicz, Mount Laurel, New Jersey, received second place for a holiday card-like photograph of a steam train in the snow; third went to Dennis Livesey, New York City, for three images representing the fascination of the city. Nineteen additional photographs were recognized in the “Judges Also Liked” category. The theme was “Lasting Impressions.” See all of the selected photographs and read the judges’ comments on the awards pages.

Fall Issue of Railroad Heritage

Fall on the Susquehanna
In the cover photograph for the Fall 2014 issue of Railroad Heritage, six locomotives lead New York, Susquehanna & Western train BH-1 through Whitney Point, New York, on the way to Syracuse at sunrise on October 12, 2013. Photograph by Amanda Oakes.

The fall issue of Railroad Heritage is now available for purchase through our online book store. Examining the future of railroad photography, writer David Lester answers the question of whether the younger generation is losing interest in railroad photography with, “Not a chance.” Lester interviews six photographers ranging in age from 18 to 30 in his cover feature, which assesses their interests and priorities, and displays the great passion they bring to the field. Incidentally, the cover photograph by Amanda Oakes is only the second time the work of a woman photographer has been featured on the cover of Railroad Heritage. Shirley Burman was the first. In conjunction with the 2014 annual meeting of the Lexington Group in Transportation History in St. Louis, there is an eight-page gallery of St. Louis railroad photographs by Center member Dick Neumiller, highlighting the Gateway City’s colorful railroads and especially its pre-Amtrak passenger trains. Three short features round out the issue. As part of our ongoing coverage of railroads and World War II in conjunction with our Railroaders exhibition at the Chicago History Museum, Center editorial consultant Jack Holzhueter shares his reflections on the patriotic imagery found in wartime dining car menus, which come from the collection of member John Kelly. Artist Elaine Wilson describes her project Charting the Wolverine of watercolors and maps highlighting Amtrak’s route across Michigan. Finally, as a follow-up to the spring issue profile on photographer Blair Kooistra, one of his former traveling and photography companions, Scott Bontz, shares his memories and photographs of their time together. Bontz has been never considered himself a railfan, and he brings an interesting perspective of an “outsider” to the pursuit of railroad photography.